Being Saved is Not a Ready-Made Passport and Visa !

Some two decades back, while I was pastor of a town parish in my diocese (Kadapa), a middle-aged man came into the church and asked me, “Are you saved?” In my conversation with him, I understood that he belonged to a non-denominational church. He was trying to tell me that I, a Catholic priest, was not saved and that I could only be saved through his preaching and baptism. I found it funny that he was trying to convert me! Be sure that there are many going around the world with this kind of attitude.Face to Face with Christ

This weekend the Gospel speaks about being saved. Being saved is the end result – seeing God face to face in heaven. It’s not a ready-made “passport and visa” as some non-Catholic preachers claim.

   Jesus explains that salvation begins with faith.  But it is also the result of how that faith is lived, as is seen in the lives of Abraham, Moses, Apostles, and scores of Saints. The teaching of the Catholic Church is that we cannot “earn” our way into heaven by good works alone. It means to say that salvation is earned by our own efforts. This is the Pelagian heresy, condemned by the Council of Carthage in A.D. 418. We also believe that we must allow God to work in our lives through his grace, a grace that is reflected in our actions. Hence, the correct understanding is: Faith or good works alone do not grant us salvation, but our faith and God’s grace.

   Our answer to the question: “Have you been saved?” should be: “I have been saved from the penalty of sin by Christ’s death and Resurrection.  I am being saved from the power of sin by the indwelling Spirit of God.  I have the hope that I shall one day be saved from the very presence of sin when I go to be with God.” 

It is through the grace of Christ that we are able to live out God’s life in us, a grace that is fortified every time we participate in the Holy Eucharist, are reconciled with God and meditate on his Word.
This week we are going to witness both: our faith in God and God’s grace flowing into us. How? First, we demonstrate our faith through all the spiritual talks that we are privileged to hear from Fr. Joseph Mary Wolfe. Second, we must open our hearts willingly and generously for God’s grace to flow into us and through us to others.

In the Service of the Lord,
  Fr Thainese Alphonse


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St. Bernadette Catholic Church